Glasgow University is failing its 5,000 home students

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Home students are not made to feel welcome on campus

universityavenue

Aidan Kerr
Writer

Student life begins for many as they pack up their belongings and say goodbye to their families.

Leaving home is the norm for the many. Yes, there’ll be a few tears with the farewell in early September but there’ll also be a few smiles. But now you can eat dessert before dinner and not have to justify why you woke the house up playing FIFA at 4:20AM on a Tuesday.

While this is the stereotypical picture of student life, the University of Glasgow has one of the highest stay at home rates of any of the elite Russell Group universities. Around 5,000 students live in their parental homes during their studies.

This makes Glasgow a very different university from others. Yet unfortunately, it fails to properly welcome these thousands of students. The University, the SRC and the unions go above and beyond to provide for students who live on or around campus, from free shuttle buses to and from halls of residence, to a dedicated team of full-time staff to ease the stresses of international students.

While opening arms are extended, and rightly so, to visitors from outside of Glasgow, the University and the organised student bodies fail to try to accommodate stay at home students.

Often these are from poorer backgrounds who would love to have a student flat, but simply cannot afford it, so instead choose to commute to campus from their family home. They too would benefit from transport help. Every ten weeks, I spend £201 just to get to university. That’s 42.3% of an entire month’s maximum non-means tested student loan. Cheaper than a month’s rent, yes, but not cheap by any means.

The next time your club or society’s executive committee is meeting, find out how many of those involved are stay at home students. I suspect you’ll not find many. Despite making up such a large proportion of the student body, ‘stay at homers’ are often not actively involved in campus life. For them, university is a 9 to 5 job. Commute, class, commute, home.

When we have made our rush-hour commute across Glasgow and from other towns in the west of Scotland, the least the University could do is provide a locker. I am not asking for much. It seems trivial, but a secure place for belongings would significantly improve these 5,000 or so students’ day-to-day experience on campus .

Carrying a heavy rucksack on your back all day is soul destroying. We can’t just nip up the road and dump it in the flat – it’s a weight on our back the full day. It is painfully annoying having to carry your laptop from Murano to campus as there are not enough computers provided by the University, but picture how bad it is doing so from a two hour round commute mostly on either a sweaty rush-hour bus or train. Not only that, if we want to go out for drinks after class, we will have to go with what we are wearing. With a locker, you could store your evening wear, ready for you hitting the bar.

Before a night on the town, you’re going to need to get something to eat. The problem is that there are no facilities for stay at home students to cook or even reheat food on campus. It means if you want something hot, you’re going to have to pay for it; do this Monday to Friday and it adds up financially. The next time you’re in the queue at the Fraser Building, try and hear a Glasgow accent; it’s not because there aren’t any Glaswegians at the University – it’s because they just can’t justify paying for it every day.

Unsurprisingly, the highlight for many students is not their studies, but the nightlife, especially in Glasgow, with a nightlife to rival any city. Nothing quite says “Viper Thursdays” like a backbreaking rucksack and wearing the same clothes you had on for 8:11am train to Glasgow Central. And then you get to the club, put down your bag and order that jägerbomb you have been craving since that wait at the train platform this morning. Your favourite track comes on, you’re ready for it. You glance at your watch. One hour to the last train home. Nightmare. Better grab that bag.

With just a few improvements, none at great cost, the University could massively improve the experience of 5,000 of its students. Locker space for these students spread across campus would be a game changer. Do this and you’ll begin to see these students start to get more involved in campus life. Don’t let some of Glasgow’s finest rush off to the subway home. Let’s get them involved.